Federico Aguilar Alcuaz (June 6, 1932 – February 2, 2011)

Federico Aguilar Alcuaz was an award winning Filipino artist. who exhibited extensively Internationally and whose work earned him recognition both in the Philippines and abroad. Best known for his early landscapes, including panoramic views of the Manila skyline seen from elevated points of view, Alcuaz also designed tapestries, sculpted, made ceramics, and created small works of art using paper scraps and cigarette wrappers: he called these “Alcuazaics.” Alcuaz was also known as a “bon-vivant” known who loved music and fine dining.

The art historian Dr. Rod Paras-Perez once called Alcuaz the “epic troubadour of the urban landscape.” Alcuaz belongs to the second generation of Filipino modernists after the Thirteen Moderns, credited along with Jose Joya, Constancio Bernardo, Fernando Zobel and Arturo Luz, for building a significant and highly-developed oeuvre of modernist painting.

Alcuaz was born on June 6, 1932 in Santa Cruz, Manila,  the 6th of 11 Children of Mariano Aguilar, a Lawyer and a Musician and Encarnacion Alcuaz. In 1949–1950 he studied painting at the University of the Philippines (UP) School of Fine Arts. His teachers at UP included Fernando Amorsolo, Guillermo Toleration and Irene Miranda.  Alcuaz also studied law at the Ateneo de Manila, completing his degree in 1955.

In 1955 he left Manila for Madrid with a scholarship to The Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando. In 1956 he moved to Barcelona to further his career as an artist. He became a member of the La Punalada Group, whose members included the artists Tàpies, Cuixart and Tharrats, and experimented with abstraction. He soon began signing his paintings as Aguilar Alcuaz to distinguish himself from two other Aguilars who are also members of the La Punalada Group. In 1959, he met Ute Schmitz whom he married 3 years later. They had three sons together: Christian, Andreas and Matthias.

In Spain, Alcuaz received several awards including winning first prize at the Premio Moncada in 1957, the 1958 Prix Francisco Goya in Bracelona, first prize at the Pintura Sant Pol del Mar in 1961 and second prize at the Premio Vancell at the Fourth Biennial of Tarrasa in Barcelona in 1964. Alcuaz was honored by the Philippines with the Presidential Medal of Merit in 2006 and in 2009 (confirmed in 2013) the Order of National Artist.

The exhibit “Federico Aguilar Alcuaz” in 2007, the first anniversary show of Galerie Joaquin Singapore, showcased rare pieces from the artist’s early career.

Alcuaz’s works are included in the collection of some 20 museums and  institutions, including the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Madrid, the Gulbenkian Foundation Museum of London, the Museum of Modern Art of Warsaw, the Musem of Modern Art of Krakow, and the Philips Cultural Museum of the Netherlands.

After living mainly in Spain for four decades, Federico Aguilar Alcuaz died on February 2, 2011 in Manila, Philippines due to natural causes.

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